Ingrown Hair Basics

Infected Ingrown Hairs

Despite our best efforts, we're sometimes unable to prevent ingrown hairs, and sometimes those ingrown hairs can become infected, resulting in painful, pus-filled bumps. Maybe you picked at the tiny, red bump, introducing bacteria into the skin. Perhaps the hair tip took some microorganisms with it as it pierced the skin. Maybe the tweezers you used to try to remove the hair weren't sterile. In any case, an infected hair follicle is the result. [source: Jay].

If you have an infected ingrown hair, don't squeeze or scrub it. Use a gentle soap to clean the infected follicle, and don't shave the area or wear tight clothing. You should also apply an antibiotic ointment daily. If the infection doesn't clear up in a few days, call your doctor. Remember, even a small infection should be taken seriously, so don't let the problem go untreated.

Now that you know how to help prevent and treat ingrown hairs, you should be on your way to that silky, smooth skin you desire. For more information on ingrown hairs, check out the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Gibson, Lawrence E., M.D. "Ingrown hairs: How do you prevent them?" MayoClinic. (Accessed 7/29/09)
  • Jay, Harvey H., M.D. "What Is an Ingrown hair?" MDLaserDerm. (Accessed 7/29/09)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Keratosis Pilaris." (Accessed 7/29/09)
  • Mayo Clinic "Laser Hair Removal." (Accessed 7/29/09)
  • "Electrolysis." (Accessed 7/29/09)
  • Shmerling, Robert H., M.D."The Hair-Raising Myth About Shaving." Aetna InteliHealth. (Accessed 7/29/09)
  • Weill Cornell Medical College. "Ingrown Hairs." (Accessed 7/29/09)